Ovarian Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

AACR Special Conference: Questions to Be Answered in Ovarian Cancer Research and Treatment

By: Celeste L. Dixon
Posted: Monday, April 29, 2019

In October 2017, the American Association for Cancer Research held a special conference, “Critical Questions in Ovarian Cancer Research and Treatment,” in which stakeholders ranging from clinicians and basic-science researchers to patients and advocates participated. The answers—and potential future answers—to the critical questions discussed at the conference were summarized in the journal Cancer. In short, the authors believe that patient outcomes will improve in coming years.

Robert C. Bast, Jr, MD, of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues noted that among the most important areas in the ovarian cancer space is earlier detection. “We must improve the sensitivity of panels of biomarkers…possibly utilizing autoantibodies, antigen-autoantibody complexes, and nucleic acids,” the researchers wrote. In terms of early detection, the utility of tracking levels of CA-125 and imaging the ovaries with transvaginal sonography is currently limited.

Another critical need is to develop additional predictive animal models, and to test any new treatment agent or approach in multiple models. Because of the extreme heterogeneity of ovarian cancers, “each [model] may reflect the genotype and phenotype of only a single patient,” the team pointed out.

Again related to heterogeneity—that of immune infiltrates in tumor tissue—is the currently low (10%–15%) response rate in ovarian cancer to immunotherapy with immune checkpoint inhibitors. Dr. Bast and co-investigators stressed that hopefully novel approaches would overcome these cancers’ immunosuppressive microenvironment. The newer treatments, they wrote, will “present autologous tumor-associated antigens more effectively and [will] administer genetically engineered [chimeric antigen receptor] T cells.”

Disclosure: The study authors’ disclosure information may be found at onlinelibrary.wiley.com.

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